As a quality improvement leader through its Hospital Engagement Network, created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ national Partnership for Patients and its Leading Edge Advanced Practice Topics initiative, the Ohio Hospital Association continues to uphold a 100-year commitment to care quality. The OHA’s highly successful hand-hygiene program is a signature example of that commitment, which has garnered the organization an honorable mention for the American Hospital Association's 2016 Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award.

“Our hand-hygiene compliance rate is now 84 percent, compared with a 68 percent national compliance rate,” says Mike Abrams, OHA president and CEO. “We are definitely making the kind of progress we need to; and we are using the good results to further expand the program and inspire even more hospitals to participate.”

Since 2010, specially trained student nurses have made more than a million “secret shopper” hand-hygiene observations at more than 100 participating Ohio hospitals and nursing facilities. As a result, hand-hygiene compliance has doubled in five years, contributing to a 48 percent decrease in hospital-acquired infections. Data for these real-time observations are entered electronically through an iPad application developed by the OHA specifically for the initiative. They’re quickly aggregated, allowing hospitals to compare their compliance with other participating facilities' while providing same-day feedback on internal staff compliance. The iPad application since has been updated to an online portal available to all hospital staff.

The hand-hygiene program reflects a broader effort launched by the OHA Board of Trustees, which commissioned a physician-led clinical advisory committee to recommend safety and quality initiatives that all member hospitals agreed were of highest priority. Their first four choices: reducing patient harm, reducing all-cause hospital admissions, preventing infant mortality and improving the patient care experience.

The clinical advisory committee appointed a work group for each initiative, led by physician champions and representatives of community hospitals, tertiary centers, critical access hospitals, health systems and other stakeholders. Between 2012 and 2014, Ohio hospitals reduced overall patient harm by 55 percent, improved patient and family engagement by 39 percent, and increased organizational leadership engagement in safety efforts by 29 percent.

“Through our work and early noteworthy results, we’ve inspired a lot of our members to collaborate with colleagues and competitors alike,” Abrams says. “Our quality outcomes strengthen our united voice to policymakers and our commitment to ensure a healthy Ohio.” 

About the award

The Dick Davidson Quality Milestone Award for Allied Association Leadership is presented annually by the American Hospital Association to a state, regional or metropolitan hospital association, which, through its programs and activities, demonstrates exceptional organizational leadership and innovation in quality improvement and has made significant contributions to the measurable improvement of quality within its geographic area. For full criteria and more information, visit